Category Archives: Frugal Living

A Whole Lot of Beets

Beets aren’t a real popular vegetable but my husband & daughter (you know, the one that eats solid food) absolutely love them. We planted them in our garden last year and again this year.

Last week was beet week. On Thursday I ran out to the garden during naptime and picked enough beets to fill my stock pot. I washed the soil off, trimmed the tops & the roots. Then you add the beets to the pot, fill with cold water and boil until fork tender.

These beets have just been taken out of the pot and are cooling for a bit in the sink. As soon as they are cool enough to handle you basically rub the skin off. It’s easier than it sounds. 🙂

IMG_8631

Here they are all skinned and ready to be cut up and frozen.

IMG_8640

And this picture I just thought looked cool.

IMG_8643

I picked another batch on Friday with Abigail helping me before naptime and then again Friday night by flashlight because it was supposed to frost on Saturday.

We froze 6 cups on Thursday, 6 cups on Friday and 26 cups on Sunday (these beets filled my 4 largest pots) for a total of 38 cups of beets frozen for the winter from last week. We did process some beets earlier in the year too so we have more than that total in the freezer.

My First Day

Today was my first day on my own at my new job.

I know it seems pretty early to be going to work after having a baby just 2 weeks ago but it was time.

I have 2 bosses and so far the older one is proving to be a little more demanding than the other at about 2pm and again around 5pm.

They are super cute though. 🙂

IMG_8577 IMG_8477

Today I started my journey as a stay-at-home-mom.

I would say my first day went pretty well.

-Abigail woke up at 8 and we ate cereal while Elsie slept.

-We all got dressed to go to Elsie’s 2-week check-up and Abigail helped me by grabbing last minute things like shoes, jackets & the diaper bag while I fed Elsie.

-We made it out the door & to Elsie’s appointment on time.

-No toddlers ran away from me in the parking lot.

-We arrived home and Abigail & I worked on an art project while Elsie napped.

-A friend stopped over for a few minutes and was greeted by a mostly clean house, a mostly behaved toddler & a cute baby.

-Abigail had a meltdown when I asked her to use the potty before her nap. We tried to work through it and I finally just put her to bed thinking I would have to wash her sheets later. She woke up dry.

-All three of us napped at the same time today and we all woke up after Terry got home from work.

-We had chili that I put in the freezer about 5 weeks ago for supper. It was a recipe I had never tried before and we all enjoyed it. I split it into 2 gallon freezer bags and one of them would be enough for 4-5 adults. Terry is bringing some to work for lunch and then we have another meal of chili ready to go for later in the week.

I am glad my first day went well. I know every day won’t be productive or I won’t feel motivated to write a blog post about how it all went but today was a good day.

Today’s lesson learned: Naptime is a wonderful time of day.

Soup Sunday

Saturday kind of got away from me in regards to cooking but it was a great day for hanging out with Terry & Abigail. Abigail even napped in a big girl bed for 2 hours!

After she got up we went to the Mall of America and walked around. I picked up a couple things from Old Navy with the 30% off coupon I had and another bread pan from Le Gourmet Chef. Now I have two bread pans the same size and one that is wider. The bread recipe I have from my mom makes 3 loaves and I couldn’t make it because I didn’t have 3 pans. I could have made two loaves of bread and turned the rest into buns but I didn’t really think about that until just now. It will be nice to get ahead on my bread making. I was using my bread machine to mix up enough dough for one loaf but then I would have to make bread every couple of days and that got to be too much. Now I can have two loaves waiting for me in the freezer and when I pull the last one out I will make 3 more loaves!

Sunday we went to the early service at church (9am) so Abigail could get an earlier nap in and I could start cooking! While I started on a Hamburger-Barley Soup, Terry started working on homemade flour tortillas from The Happy Housewife. He did a great job on the tortillas. They were so soft and tasted great with the leftover Chicken Mexican Skillet, a little cheddar cheese and some salsa.

It was fun to have both of us working in the kitchen, listening to the radio while our sweet child napped for the second time in her big girl bed.

Here is my Hamburger-Barley Soup recipe, very slightly adapted from the Better Homes & Garden’s Cookbook. Original recipe can be found here. What follows is my adaptation.

1 lb hamburger
1 c diced onion
1 tsp minced garlic (1 clove)
2 c thinly sliced carrots (4 medium)
1 c celery (2 stalks)
6 c beef stock
29 oz diced tomatoes
8 oz tomato sauce
1/2 c barley
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp oregano, dried
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

I started out with a tbsp or so of olive oil in a big pot. Tossed in the onions, garlic, carrots and celery and stirred them periodically while I defrosted my precooked beef (I got a good deal on beef and cooked it all up then froze it in 2 cup pkgs–2 cups cooked is equal to 1 lb raw), then tossed in the beef and continued to cook until the carrots were almost tender.

I also had homemade/leftover beef stock/broth (i’m not sure what the difference is) in the freezer. I used all 6 cups I had because I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do with a leftover 6 oz since the recipe called for 42 oz. Now add all the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil then simmer for probably 45 minutes or an hour because I didn’t buy the quick-cooking barley. It would have cut down the simmer time to about 20 minutes if I had.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I wasn’t in any rush to get a meal on the table so I didn’t really keep track of the time. I ended up with about 3.5 qts which fed us for two suppers and 1 lunch for each of us (excluding Abigail since she doesn’t have to bring a lunch with her to daycare).

This soup has a really good flavor and Abigail loved it.

Crockpot Lasagna

***My apologies to anyone trying to access my site for the last 24 hours. We had a little hiccup which was just corrected. Hope none of you were planning on making this recipe last night!***

My husband thought this recipe was so good that I need to blog about it. So I am. I always listen when my husband says blog. Actually I usually have an excuse not to blog, like the pictures I want to blog are still on the camera and I don’t know where the camera is. But today I am prepared to blog with only one picture that doesn’t show any of the food I made. Kind of like how my knitting blog has no pictures of knitting. But I digress.

You are going to need at least a 5 quart crockpot for this recipe. Mine is 5 qt and it was filled to the brim. You can use any kind of spaghetti sauce, meat or pasta you would like for this recipe. You could even take out the meat and add in spinach or some other veggie.

If you end up closer to the 52 oz of sauce rather than 56oz you may want to add a bit of water to the sauce to make sure there is enough liquid to cook the noodles in. The water listed in the recipe is added at the end and helps the cheeses melt and jump starts the cooking.

If you are making your own sauce you probably don’t have to add the Italian seasoning but it will turn the flavor up a notch.

You can use any type of pasta you prefer but a thicker pasta like penne tends to hold up better to the crockpot cooking and gives a better ratio. I used wide egg noodles because that is what I had in the cupboard but it did feel like the ratio of noodles to everything else was a bit off. Next time I use egg noodles I will probably just use a bit less than 16oz.

This is constructed in the crockpot as layers just like regular lasagna.

Crockpot Lasagna
52-56 oz       spaghetti sauce (2 jars)
1 1/2 tsp       italian seasoning, divided
1 lb              ground beef, browned
16 oz            pasta, uncooked
24 oz            cottage cheese
1                  egg
1 tsp            dried parsley
12 oz            mozzarella cheese, shredded
Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup         water

1. Mix slightly beaten egg, parsley and cottage cheese to a separate bowl. Set aside.
2. Pour one jar (26 – 28oz) of spaghetti sauce into crockpot.
3. Add 3/4 tsp italian seasoning and mix with sauce
4. Add 1/2 lb ground beef
5. Add 8 oz pasta
6. Add 1/2 of cottage cheese mixture
7. Add 6 oz of mozzarella cheese
8. Repeat steps 2-7
9. Add a generous amount of Parmesan cheese to the top layer. Sprinkle water over top layer also.
10. Turn your crockpot on HIGH for 4 hours. (Mine was done in about 3.5 hours)

This post is linked up to What’s in Your Crockpot?

Then I decided I just had to make The Pioneer Woman’s Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever. since I was inviting my mother-in-law over for the evening and I just bought the right size pan to make it! The recipe calls for a jelly roll pan or half sheet pan. Approximately 13 x 18. This is a fast and easy chocolate cake and oh so moist and delicious! Again, no pictures but if you click on that link for the recipe you will get more pictures than you could ever think to take yourself. Every step is cataloged. Mine looked just like hers only in my kitchen and most of the cake never even made it on to a plate and wasn’t eaten with a fork. It’s just that good! Please make this cake this weekend. Your waistline may not love you, but your tastebuds will!

Here is my little girl after lasagna & cake

IMG_7826

Since I was home all day yesterday (Nov 12)  with Abigail (she has a bad cough but no fever) I made the Chicken Mexican Skillet I referenced in my last post. As The Happy Housewife suggests I made the brown rice with salsa added to the water and it was excellent! I also put my black beans in the crockpot for a few hours with onion, garlic & pepper and it made the house smell so good. This was a very economical meal coming in at $3.70 total. This was a big hit and I still have about 8 cups leftover! As Terry was eating he noted that his Chipotle burritos are usually made with these same ingredients. We may be making our own tortillas this weekend and trying it out! Terry has wanted to make homemade tortillas for quite a while so I’m sure he will be pretty excited for those!

So to recap our suppers this week:

Sunday: Crockpot Lasagna

Monday: Papa Murphey’s pizza

Tuesday: Leftover Lasagna & pizza

Wednesday: Brats

Thursday: Chicken Mexican Skillet

Friday: ?

Saturday: Pearson Burritos & Potato Soup

As for the meal planning, the plan was mostly in my head and the two things I really wanted to make, I made. We did make two trips to the grocery story this week after I made my “big” trip on Saturday. Once for peanut butter (breakfasts) & potatoes (for soup day this Saturday) and the second trip was for milk, garlic (last night’s supper) & salsa (I really like salsa and need to have it in the house because I knew we would run out after having supper). So we weren’t going to the store “for” supper except for the garlic. Which is really a big part of my goal with meal planning is to be able to get home and make supper without running around after work looking for food to make.

Baby Steps in Meal Planning

Last Wednesday (Nov 4) I decided what we were going to have for supper for Thursday and Friday.

Thursday Terry had a meeting at 6:30 so it had to be something quick & easy. Grilled cheese & eggs are always a hit with Abigail and super easy so I penciled it in.

Friday I just didn’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen after a week of work so I figured something in the crockpot would be best. I penciled in crockpot lasagna even though I didn’t have the recipe from my sister yet but I was pretty sure I had all the ingredients.

I was feeling pretty good about my tiny start in meal planning. Then I got a call Thursday morning from a couple that Terry & I hadn’t seen in over 6 years. The only night they were free to see us was Thursday. Terry got out of his meeting and we met them for supper at Khan’s Mongolian Barbeque. We met their 3 kids for the first time and they got to meet Abigail.

IMG_7755

IMG_7757

IMG_7752

So the grilled cheese got put on hold but Terry ended up making it on Friday for lunch instead. Then we ended up at Sam’s Club at supper time on Friday. The crockpot lasagna was on hold before we ended up at Sam’s though because I hadn’t gotten a hold of my sister yet since they were very busy out in the field combining.

Saturday morning I was organizing a bunch of my loose recipes and Chicken Pot Pie on the Fly from The Happy Housewife caught my eye. I picked up some real cheap chicken breasts ($0.99/lb) on sale at Cub earlier in the week so the only thing I needed was some mixed veggies.

While I was shopping at Aldi for the veggies I also picked up black beans & rice for Chicken Mexican Skillet. While I was putting the groceries in the car I managed to shove my sunglasses (which were perched on top of my head) into the top of my head. By the time I got home a few minutes later my head was really pounding so I reclined on the love seat and Terry helped me make supper.

As I was reading the recipe to him I realized that an essential part of chicken pot pie is the potatoes of which i had none. I know, it’s not good to just run out of a staple like potatoes but it happened. So we went without. It was very good, but I it would have been better and gone even further if we had remembered the potatoes. It was even better the second day after the chicken had a chance to marinate in the creamy goodness for a day.

IMG_7825

I could have left it in longer to brown the top a bit but we were hungry.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about our Crockpot Lasagna!

Happy Birthday Abigail!

Terry summed it up best on his blog so I’m just going to add some new pictures.

Not too messy!

IMG_6108

A new chair & some farm animals.

IMG_6089

Ready to open her presents.

IMG_6039

Enjoying her birthday supper at CiCi’s Pizza.

IMG_6019

Having fun at the Tax Cut Rally.

IMG_6010

After feeding herself some oatmeal a couple days ago.

IMG_6005

Trying to stowaway in Grandma’s suitcase for a trip to Hawaii.

IMG_5985

Both Mommy & Daddy are so proud of all you have accomplished in the last year!

Frugal Friday

Since the Fall of 2007 I’ve changed clothing  sizes a few times. I guess having a baby can do that to you. 🙂 We recently got a nice size tax refund and a small portion of that was set aside for the procurement of nice work clothes that fit & were appropriate for summer. Most of the items I found will be year round additions to my wardrobe.

The first shopping day I went to Upscale Consignment, Goodwill & Kohl’s

Upscale Consignment:

Dress: $16.00

Gray short-sleeved cardigan: $7.00

Black lacy bolero: $5.00

Red & Black top: $8.00

Total: $36.00

Goodwill:

Ann Taylor dress pants: $5.99

Kate Spade purse: $4.99

Total:  $10.98

Kohl’s:

Clearance black dress pants: $9.60

Clearance gray skirt: $17.60

On Sale mint/brown top: $16.99

On Sale magenta floral top: $16.99

Total:  $61.18

Total for day 1:  $108.16

Day 2 shopping trip I went to Walmart & a different Goodwill.

Walmart (all on clearance):

Black Suit Jacket: $9.00

Gray Pants: $9.00

Gray Skirt: $9.00

Black Top: $9.00

Total:  $36.00

Goodwill:

White/Black Top: $6.99

Blue/White Top: $4.99

Gray & black Jacket: $8.99

Total:  $20.97

Total for day 2:  $56.97


Average Price Paid —— Total Items Purchased

10.49 —— 6  tops

9.00 —–  2  jackets

6.50 —— 2  “over” items

8.20 —— 3  pairs of dress pants

13.30 —— 2  skirts

16.00 —— 1  dress

4.99 —— 1  purse

I think I did pretty well and I didn’t even use the whole allotment! I found some great deals by looking places I hadn’t considered in the past. Next time I go out I’m going to think about the prices I pay even more.  If I hadn’t shopped at Kohl’s my averages would have all been below $9/item.

Kohl’s was the most expensive even by only shopping sales/clearance.

Goodwill was the cheapest but I had to look much harder to find some really good stuff. But the stuff I found (especially the 1st day) was REALLY good!

Upscale Consignment had  great deals and everything looked really good. I will probably stop back there in a couple of weeks to see if they have anything new!

IMG_5379

The items I picked up on day 2.